By Marc Livitz: On Saturday afternoon in London, a crowd of over 90,000 spectators will fill historic Wembley Stadium to witness their hometown hero, Anthony Joshua take on a longtime and well known occupant who was once atop the the heavyweight ranks. At the age of 41, former unified champion Wladimir Klitschko will return to the ring after 17 months of inactivity to face an undefeated champion who is 14 years his junior and boasts as many knockouts as victories. Joshua (18-0, 18 KO’s) captured Olympic gold in 2012 as a super heavyweight and turned professional the following year. Since then, he’s fought exclusively within the United Kingdom has has defended the IBF title he won just over one year ago three times.
Across the ring, he’ll find an opponent who, love it or loathe it essentially dominated the heavyweight ranks for a dozen years until he lost to Tyson Fury in November 2015. Klitschko (64-4, 53 KO’s) has taken a long break from the action while he at times assisted his older brother, former world champion Vitali with matters in his home nation of Ukraine. The winner of the bout will have a number of options to consider, while the loser may have a drawing board waiting for him. A loss for Klitschko, especially a resounding one would in all likelihood signal the end of his career, while a defeat for Anthony Joshua may set him back a year or two.
Regardless of the outcome, waiting in the wings is the undefeated WBC world heavyweight champion, Deontay "Bronze Bomber" Wilder of Alabama. Wilder (38-0, 37 KO’s) will serve as a ringside analyst for Sky Sports Box Office on Saturday in London. On Monday afternoon, Wilder joined the boxing media for a conference call to share his views on the upcoming showdown at Wembley and how he hopes to become part of the public’s desire to see an undisputed, unified heavyweight champion akin to the golden years of the division.
Selected Highlights Below
Wilder’s Opening Statements: "I’m excited to be going to England to participate in this match and join Sky Sports as an analyst. I’m looking forward to giving my own birds eye view of both guys. This is a superfight for the heavyweight division. Hopefully, they come out safely because this is a dangerous sport. I’m looking forward to going over."
Thoughts on Anthony Joshua: "There’s a lot of flaws in him. He’s still young. A lot of people look at him and his physique. They also look at the hype that his countrymen have thrown on him. Look at his resume and do your research. The hype sometimes makes people skip the facts."
Joshua’s Assets: "Joshua has the height and the power. You don’t need skills in the heavyweight division. If you have power, then you’re in the game. He will have to move and take angles. Klitschko is very smart and he tries to set you up. Joshua is not super athletic because of his stiffness. Hopefully all goes to plan and we get a mega fight unification by the end of this year."
On Fighting the Winner: "I’m not too confident but hopefully, I will. It’s not just me involved. It’s what the fans want and that’s what I’m all about. I can only go with what I can work with and I’m confident that I will retire on top. I’ve been sitting here patiently and for my turn to show what I can do in this division."
His Popularity in England and International Fervor: "I’m like a household name over there. When you deal with other countries, anything great done against another part of the world brings a celebration. It’s only in America where it’s not like that. It’s harder for some Americans to get behind Americans. No matter what though, you have to make it in America. I love that they have strong fans over there and that they show support. I’m always happy for others and when countries support their people."
On Unifying the Titles: "There needs to be only one champion. One belt, one division so everyone around the world knows there’s only one guy. That would change things for the better."
Whether He’ll Be an Analyst or Scout: "When you have guys competing like this, especially ones at the top, I need to be there. I’m surely going to scout. Other heavyweights have done that at my fights. You have to be smart but you also need to know how to survive in that jungle. I’m a smart fighter. I have a weird style and you can’t prepare for it."
On Fighting WBO Champion, Joseph Parker: "This is the heavyweight division and these days, we’ve just come back into the light. Don’t ruin it. I want to fight Joseph Parker and then the winner of this fight for a winner take all, unification bout. I want to fight Parker in July. Why not? He has no opponent, so let’s get it on. Let’s keep the heavyweight division hot. It makes so much sense."
On Klitschko Since The Loss of Trainer Emmanuel Steward: "The teaching of Emmanuel Steward is lacking a bit, but he’s not to blame. He was a very smart trainer. Klitschko was the best when he had him in his corner. Since he’s gone, it now seems that Wladimir wants to do whatever he wants. Those guys had a bond and they were great together."
Why He Lost to Tyson Fury: "Klitschko lost to Tyson Fury because he didn’t throw any punches. You have to go in there and defend your title because you’re the king. The size and strength of the other guy doesn’t matter. Sometimes, you still have to let them know that you’re still a monster."
If Age Has Caught up to Klitschko: "Anything is possible. We all know that age is just a number. If you feel that you can do it, then you can do it. Once you lose your mind, then you lose your body. He needed that loss to Fury. He felt invincible and untouchable because he did nothing but win for ten years. I think he’s got it back and he’ll bring that Klitschko back. Guys like George Foreman and Bernard Hopkins made other guys want to go out and work hard again."
His Fight Prediction: "I will keep my opinions. My heart is with Joshua but my mind is with Klitschko. People are talking about a fight between Joshua and I. That would be a great one. Still, Klitschko is very smart. He’s seen every style there is. When you see it again, you know how to adapt to it."